Case Study

Alliance for Climate Education

Challenge

How do you inspire high school students to take action for climate change related issues?

Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate young people on the science of climate change and empower them to take action. ACE presenters visit high schools around the country to give engaging, multimedia assemblies about climate science and solutions. Since 2009, nearly 2 million students have participated in an ACE Assembly.

Studies show that text messaging is the preferred communication method among teenagers – they use it more than any other channel, and prefer it above email, phone calls, and on occasion, face to face interactions. Given their target audience of teenagers, ACE knew that SMS is especially important to their mission in engaging students around climate change. ACE decided to create a text messaging program to give students at each Assembly an easy way to start taking action immediately.

Action

Use text messaging to connect students to resources so that they can start taking action around climate change.

ACE uses the Do One Thing (DOT) campaign as a way to get students to take action around climate change. Each student is encouraged to make a pledge to “Do One Thing” to help the environment. At each ACE Assembly, presenters invite students to Text DOT to 30644 to join the SMS campaign.

Students who text in are prompted to tell ACE what their DOT is, as well as provide personal information like their email, zip code, and grade. Students then begin receiving regular text messages targeted to the information they provided, including their age, location, and personal level of engagement. The messages include ideas for school projects, green lifestyle tips, opportunities to take action at local events, and information about the ACE Action Fellowship program.

ACE works with each of the high schools they visit to ensure that students have permission to use their phones during the presentation. If not, students are given paper forms to sign up for the text messages manually. To add excitement around opting in, ACE presenters challenge students to text in to the campaign within a 30-second countdown, which also ensures that students don’t use their phones throughout the rest of the presentation.

Success

ACE enrolls tens of thousands of high schools students to their mobile list in one school year.

ACE’s approach to text messaging works extremely well. Within the 2014-2015 school year alone, over 40,000 students opted into their mobile list! ACE was also able to track the data from each Assembly and learn useful insights in the effectiveness of their text messaging efforts. For example, they found that the average opt-in rate for the DOT challenge is 7.82%, and the average click-through rate on links sent out in a text message is 1.44%. They are also able to track the performance of its presenters based on the number of student opt-ins at each Assembly. This data helps ACE continue to grow and improve their SMS program to further its goals.

With text messaging, students are also able to text ACE with their thoughts on the presentations. This provides ACE with valuable feedback on the success of the program. For example, one student shared this message:

Overall, SMS is a primary way that ACE does acquisition and data capture and has made a major impact on the growth of the organization. ACE is excited to continue using text messaging in order to motivate and influence teenagers to take action on climate change-related issues.

“Texting is the #1 way teenagers communicate digitally. ACE could not effectively engage with our youth network without a platform like Upland Mobile Messaging.” -Wen Lee, Communications Manager

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